>> SAFE AND SOUND (AND DRY)
The opening of the protected bike lane on North King Street between downtown and University ushers in a long-overdue era of viability for alternative modes of transportation in Honolulu. With increasing traffic in town, this lane will mean a much quicker, much healthier way to get to work each day for many urbanites.
To put it in perspective, driving from the medical school in Kakaako to my apartment near Punahou in Makiki takes about 35 minutes during the peak afternoon rush hour. On a bike, this same route takes less than 15 minutes. The fact that I’m burning calories rather than gas led me to ditch my car and go full-cycle (or occasionally ride the bus) for personal transportation. This lane will alleviate the concerns of many people who live and work in the Honolulu area but feel that this city just isn’t safe enough for cycling yet.
I got my bike barely used off of Craigslist for just over $200. It came with a heavy-duty U-Lock, which is absolutely essential. Cable locks can be cut, while both the Kryptonite and Bulldog U-locks back their protection with a warranty that will replace your bike if stolen. I added a fender set so I wouldn’t get splashed while riding over puddles, and I dropped about $100 for a powerful rechargeable USB light kit so that I can see and be seen while riding at night. There’s reflective striping tape available in a plethora of colors that will blend right in with your bike’s frame during the daytime, but glow brightly when hit by headlights. I applied this to the sides of my frame and put a set of blinky lights in the spokes so that I’m visible from all angles.
I tossed on a rear rack and collapsible basket, and now I can fit as many groceries as I can carry. I also realized that more commuters wear helmets than don’t, so I no longer feel dorky wearing one.
My biggest concern about biking was my laptop getting wet if I got caught in the rain, so I performed some firsthand research to calm this qualm. I’ve been using Timbuk2’s Especial Vuelo Cycling Backpack for the past couple weeks, and it features an internal weatherproof drop-liner. It is extremely lightweight and has flow-through venting on the back that lets me feel a breeze when I’m riding, while its reflective panels keep me visible at night.
I also got to test out the Velo Transit Metro 20 Pannier that clips easily on and off of my rear rack. It’s rock solid and can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff. I’ve used it to stash a dry change of clothes for the hospital and still had room for extra groceries on the way home. These bags’ roll-top dry-bag closure lasted more than 30 minutes in my shower’s nightmare torrential downpour simulator.
I would feel completely comfortable spending an entire day in the rain with these bags, knowing my electronic life was safe and dry.
I also tried out Eagle Creek’s business-savvy Convertabrief backpack/ shoulder bag/briefcase that lasted more than 15 minutes in the simulator before rain started to seep in, perfect for a quick commute while looking professional.